Freeport, ME - Shirley Ann Mathews died peacefully in her home beside her husband Rod Regier on September 30.
She was born January 5, 1937, the daughter of newspaper reporter Roy Forrest and his wife Myrtle. A noted musician and teacher, she performed on the harpsichord and fortepiano in the U.S. and Europe. For seventeen years she was artistic director of Pro Musica Rara, a group of professional players in Baltimore exploring early works and musical performance practice, and for eight summers she led similar programs at Music in the Meetinghouse concerts in Yarmouth. She leaves a legacy of students, colleagues and friends whose lives she touched and inspired, recordings of Baroque period masters, and an early music program she started while on the faculty of the Peabody Conservatory.
Elfin in stature but large in heart, Shirley was deeply intelligent and creative, witty and irreverent. Rooms glowed when she entered. Music was part of her soul; Bach partitas, Mozart songs, and Chopin nocturnes played continuously in her mind’s ear. When she wasn’t practicing or studying musical scores and history, she reveled in cooking, gardening, painting floral garlands on harpsichord soundboards, or helping rebuild the old farmhouse on South Street she and Rod bought in 1978. Although pearls and a black concert gown were her frequent dress, in one of her favorite photos of herself she wore a hardhat, swinging a crowbar at a deteriorated fiberboard kitchen wall.
Shirley and Rod met through their shared passion for the harpsichord and its repertoire. They were “um, together” since 1973, married five years later, and remained in love throughout their many years with each other. In 2002, she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, her diagnosis later refined to a noxious form of that movement disorder called progressive supranuclear palsy. The illness dimmed her, but never extinguished her spark. Using a folding wheelchair, she continued to attend concerts, visit art museums, and enjoy what human imagination has created. Since 2011, the attentive care of private aide Melanie Fogarty helped maintain a sense of normalcy and dignity as the disease progressed. For that compassion Shirley’s family and friends will be forever grateful.
Shirley is survived by her husband Rod, her brother Lynn Forrest and his wife Judith, her father-in-law Don Regier, brother-in-law Steve Regier and his wife Kathy, and sisters-in-law Sue (Regier) Page, Ann Regier, and Lynn (Regier) Gunning and her husband Kevin.
A memorial service is planned for a later time.
In lieu of flowers, please consider donations to: Maine Parkinson’s Society respite care program (359 Perry Road, Bangor, ME 04401) or Pro Musica Rara (P.O. Box 16387, Baltimore, MD 21210)